Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Amazing Quotes from EQ Article

The latest edition of Educause Quarterly (Volume 30, Number 4, 2007) just came out and has a few interesting articles. The one that particularly grabbed my attention was titled “Use and Users of Digital Resources” by Diane Harley. In the table of contents it says the following about the article: “A survey explored scholars’ attitudes about educational technology environments in the humanities.”

Harley and her research associates asked faculty why they do not use digital resources in their teaching. 75% of the 831 faculty respondents said basically that digital resources do not sync with the teaching approaches that they use. STOP THE PRESSES!! Apparently the faculty members who are using the same techniques as they did 20-30 years ago see the digital resources as THE problem, not their teaching techniques.

Reading some of the quotes from faculty in this article is a very fun way to spend ten minutes. For example:

  • “I think there is a real danger of students’ becoming too computer literate and “connected” in ways that undermine, or at least compete with, other crucial skills: argumentative writing, careful and critical reading of long texts, and oral argument.” –Political science instructor, UC (University of California)
  • “There is evidence that PowerPoint and those other displays with bells and whistles etc. rot the mind. My students need to learn how to THINK and READ BOOKS and, in the case of foreign languages, talk to real people. Their attention span is being annihilated enough with the huge number of “technical events” on television." –Foreign language and literature instructor, UC
  • “Frankly, I just don’t really want to use digital resources. What’s wrong with books anyway?” –History instructor, UC
When citing the barriers to their uses of digital resources, 44% said that “there are too many resources out there for me to take advantage of – I am overwhelmed.” I continue to be amused by this line of thought. Keep in mind that these are educated people!! Can you imagine them saying any of the following?
  • “I went to the restaurant last night. The menu was ten pages long. I was totally overwhelmed so I decided not to eat at all.”
  • “I'm in the market for a new car. Did you realize that today there are a whole bunch of choices for this? All I wanted was a black model-T, but now I have to consider all these other choices. I guess I’ll just take the bus.” (Yes, but which one?!)
  • “I walked into a bookstore the other day. OMG!! I had no idea that there were so many choices. Why don’t they just sell the one book that I really want/need to read?”
In closing, one more quote from the Educause article: “Listen up you bunch of yay-hoos! I’m an educator, dammit! The last thing I wanna do is try to keep pace with advances in technology and the way that people learn. I went to college 30 years ago and having some old man talk AT me for 50 minutes was the only way we knew how to learn. It worked for me and there’s no reason it won’t continue to work that way until the end of time, if not longer. About the time that crappy teaching techniques are no longer acceptable in higher education is the day that I turn in my resignation to the university.” (I admit that I totally made up this last “quote,” but it is exactly what I thought about as I was reading the entire article.)

NOTE: Educause Quarterly is a fine publication and I have no intention of demeaning the quality of the magazine. Diane Harley was simply reporting what she heard from the faculty responses to the survey. My rant here is in no way intended to reflect poorly on either the publisher or the author. In fact, I thank both of them for bringing this information to light about the Neo-luddites who continue to fight against uses of technology in education.

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